North-South Interconnector: Delays as planning decisions judicially reviewed

EirGrid indicated this morning (Wednesday, January 30) that a planning decision by An Bord Pleanala in relation to the North-South Interconnector, which was judicially reviewed in the High Court, has now been sent to the Supreme Court for further examination.

The planning decision in Northern Ireland was also challenged after it was granted and is currently being judicially reviewed in that jurisdiction too.

The company also confirmed that landowners and farmers on whose land pylons will be built will be compensated.

However, the judicial review of the planning has delayed the project and plans to negotiate a compensation package with the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) will not take place now until judicial review proceedings are completed and the project is back on track.

Speaking to AgriLand, EirGrid’s David Martin said that, while legal issues had delayed the project thus far, the North-South Interconnector would go ahead.

“The Electricity Supply Board (ESB) will build the pylons on the land and it will also have a right of way onto the land in order to maintain and service the pylons,” he added.

“Farmers and landowners effected will be compensated and discussions in relation to that will take place with the IFA once judicial proceedings conclude.”

EirGrid has indicated the new interconnector will improve the security of electricity supply across the country; help to improve the efficiency of the electricity system; and reduce costs for customers.

Meanwhile, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said a study conducted by an International Expert Commission in 2016 determined that, from a techno-economic point of view, an alternating current overhead line was the most beneficial way of meeting the need for enhanced power transfer capability between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The department said EirGrid was obliged to develop, operate and maintain a safe, secure, reliable, economical and efficient electricity transmission system, and to explore and develop opportunities for interconnection.

“There are currently a number of on-going procurements in relation to the project being undertaken and managed by ESB, such as tower [pylon] design; however, no critical procurement contracts such as construction will be concluded until all legal proceedings are resolved.

“The earliest possible date for construction is early 2020,” a spokesperson concluded.